“Think outside of the bottle” – These are the promising words of wisdom from an innovative start-up called Skipping Rocks Lab in London. A group of researchers and business developers whose goal is to make product packaging obsolete invented an edible water bottle which could help us to solve our problem of increasing environmental pollution triggered by plastic waste. In the coming year, the “Ooho water balls” will be introduced into the European market.
Frightful, but true:
By the year 2050 it is estimated that there could be more plastic than fishes in the oceans. Every year, eight million tons of plastic waste are dumped into the oceans. Yes, that truly is the annual amount.
- This corresponds to about one garbage truck per minute, which is emptied into the sea.
- Plastic – next to bags mainly plastic bottles (disposable and reusable bottles) makes up to 80 percent of the waste in the world’s oceans.
- The most famous garbage-sea – the „Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is in the North Pacific Ocean. It now has the size of Central Europe and it steadily continues to grow.
- According to the German Federal Environmental Agency, plastic bottles require up to 450 years for complete decomposition.
What if we could replace plastic bottles with something more environmentally friendly – even something edible?
An approach to replace plastic bottles is an innovative idea from England, called “Ooho”. A young company called “Skipping Rocks Lab” has recently presented an edible, biodegradable solution for replenishing liquids such as water – water encased inside an edible container made using seaweed. All the customer must do, to quench his/her thirst, is to poke a hole in the surface layer or, better still, to pop the entire tasteless blob in their mouth. But the “Ooho” bubble can do much more: not only plastic bottles could be replaced – the water balls can encapsulate any beverage including water, soft drinks, spirits or even cosmetics.
So far so good – but how does it work?
The creators, who have been working on the Ooho bubble since 2014, use a simple two-step culinary process called spherification to create the ingenious bowl. They begin by immersing a frozen ball of water or juice into a calcium chloride solution. This helps to form a gelatinous layer around the liquid. The ball is then soaked in a solution made from brown algae extract. This creates a second layer, helping to reinforce the structure so that the water or juice does not leak.
The special features:
Of course, this innovative idea could improve our environmental situation a lot. But not only that, the cost of a biodegradable package is just two cents per bubble, which also makes it a lot cheaper to manufacture than plastic.
A future changing innovation or nothing but nonsense?
The “Ooho-water-ball” is a great step in the right direction to find a remedy for environmental problems triggered by plastic. If the plastic-bottle replacement is successful and can take off our environmental situation will benefit a lot and it will solve many problems, we are currently dealing with. The material is, as mentioned before, edible and biodegradable.
However, before it can become a serious contender to plastic bottles “Ooho” has to overcome some obstacles first.
In addition to getting used to the unusual texture of the tasteless covering, each edible bubble contains just a gulp of water. This requires consumers to drink multiple water balls to slake their thirst. Another issue to deal with is the finding of an eco-friendly packaging to transport the bubbles so that they don’t burst and that they remain clean. Last but not least, it must be admitted that popping an Ooho bubble into the mouth is not the most elegant way to drink water or juice considering that the liquid can splatter.
Hopefully, the creators will find ways to combat these issues so that we can reduce or perhaps even eliminate plastic bottles in near future.